March 10, 2018 10:58:39 PM
ST. LOUIS -- The No. 13 Tennessee men's basketball team entered the Southeastern Conference Tournament as one of the conference's top defensive teams.
It was the team's defense that bailed out a struggling offense in the Volunteers' 62-59 victory over Mississippi State in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Friday night.
The second-seeded Volunteers (24-7) led nearly the entire game, but the Bulldogs (22-11) had an opportunity to take the lead in the final 10 seconds. Down 61-59, Xavian Stapleton missed a 3-pointer that would have put the Bulldogs ahead.
Tennessee struggled to put away Mississippi State at the end, missing a slew of free throws. The Volunteers finished 17 for 28 from the free-throw line, but outrebounded the Bulldogs 50-33, limited them to just one assist and hauled in 22 offensive boards.
"To give up 22 offensive rebounds and one assist and you have a chance to win, that would be pretty amazing, to be honest with you," Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said.
Admiral Schofield scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Grant Williams finished with a double-double, notching 10 points and 11 boards. Williams alone earned six offensive rebounds.
"We had 22 offensive rebounds, and that was the difference," Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. "We know that our biggest Achilles heel all year has been rebounding. We talked about it a lot, not so much offensively where we want to go get it, but trying to do it on the defensive end."
Lamar Peters led the Bulldogs with 22 points and Quinndary Weatherspoon scored 17 points. Weatherspoon's brother, Nick, left the contest after Tennessee's Kyle Alexander's foot collided with his face as Alexander was contesting a fastbreak. Play resumed after a 10-minute stoppage.
"You pray for then and you have a moment where you have to take a step back, but it's still a game," Williams said. "You still have to compete. That's what you have to understand. You have to talk to your team and let them know we've got a 20-minute game left.
MSU guard Nick Weatherspoon was injured and taken off the court on a stretcher after being stepped on with 14:54 remaining in the Bulldogs' 62-59 loss against No. 13 Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference Tournament quarterfinals on Friday night.
Weatherspoon was lying on the court and grabbing his hip underneath the Tennessee basket when he was stepped on by the Volunteers' Kyle Alexander. The contact occurred while Alexander was contesting a Mississippi State fast break attempt, and after Weatherspoon had fallen on the floor and injured his hip on the previous play.
Play was paused for about 10 minutes as trainers and medical staff assisted Weatherspoon. A courtside reporter on the SEC Network said Weatherspoon was conscious and responding to medical staff.
As Weatherspoon was loaded onto a stretcher, players from both Mississippi State and Tennessee came over to wish him well. That included his brother and teammate, Quinndary, a junior for the Bulldogs, and he left the court to a standing ovation in the Scottrade Center.
Broadcasters on the SEC Network said Weatherspoon was taken to a hospital by ambulance. They said the medical staff were concerned about the back of Weatherspoon's head and his neck, but that he was blinking, responding, shaking and squeezing someone's hand.
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